Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Knox County Schools in middle of systemwide radon testing program

Knox County Schools is in the midst of a lengthy, systemwide radon testing program.

The system is testing dozens of buildings including more than 80 schools, according to system spokeswoman Carly Harrington.

Knox County Schools began the testing and mitigation project in June. Among the schools now under testing is Adrian Burnett Elementary School, 4521 Brown Gap Road in North Knox County.

"We will test all of our buildings over the next several years," Harrington told 10News. "Radon testing is just one of several environmental testing/maintenance initiatives in which we engage."

Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Awareness and concern about its presence in homes and other structures have been growing in recent decades.

January, in fact, is National Radon Awareness Month.

The EPA now recognizes that high levels have been found in a number of schools across the country.

According to the agency: "A nationwide survey of radon levels in schools estimates that nearly one in five has at least one schoolroom with a short-term radon level above the action level of 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter) - the level at which EPA recommends that schools take action to reduce the level. EPA estimates that more than 70,000 schoolrooms in use today have high short-term radon levels."

A naturally occurring odorless gas, radon is ranked among the more serious environment health programs in the U.S.

It's thought to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Cancer can occur after long-term exposure to radon.

EPA guidelines call for tests in all frequently used rooms at or below ground level. The agency also recommends testing during cooler months.

You can learn more about EPA guidelines on radon testing here.

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